Can Favre finally hook a big one?

ON THE NFL

November 17, 1996|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,SUN STAFF

When Joe Gibbs became the first coach to win Super Bowls with three different quarterbacks, he had one yardstick for measuring a quarterback.

"A quarterback is rated on how far he takes you," said Gibbs, who won titles with Joe Theismann, Doug Williams and Mark Rypien. "How far can you go in the playoffs? Can you go to a Super Bowl? Until you do that, you're not considered a guy who's done it."

That's why the pressure will be on Brett Favre's shoulders when the Green Bay Packers meet the Cowboys in Dallas tomorrow night.

The opposing quarterback, Troy Aikman, has done it. He's not having one of his best years, but he has won three Super Bowl rings.

Favre, by contrast, has all the statistics, but hasn't even gotten to the Super Bowl.

He was the NFL's MVP last year and is leading the league this season with 27 touchdown passes and a 97.1 quarterback rating, but he hasn't even beaten Dallas.

The Packers have lost six games in Dallas the last three years -- three in the regular season and three in the playoffs.

If this is the year the Packers are to get over the hump, Favre has to show he can take the first step by beating the Cowboys.

He's at a disadvantage because receivers Robert Brooks and Antonio Freeman are injured.

But Favre showed he is a leader when he took the blame for the injuries, even though Brooks was injured while blocking.

Favre said he believes he has put the receivers in harm's way with ill-timed passes. Don Beebe, Anthony Morgan and Terry Mickens have taken big hits while trying to catch Favre's passes.

"Poor Don, his career is shortening each week. And now Mickens and Anthony," Favre said. "Anthony said, 'I came back two weeks ago, now I kind of wish I was leaving again.'

"I put myself at risk the way I play and I sometimes put our receivers at risk. You've seen more of that the last couple of weeks. Why, I don't know. I'm killing these guys. This offense is actually not built for getting guys killed. It's more of timing and precision passing. It's not meant to lead guys through the middle and stuff like that. So that's been my fault."

If Favre is to upset the Cowboys, he has to be more accurate tomorrow night.

Coach Mike Holmgren said of the so-called West Coast offense: "We ask our receivers to go over the middle, but every team in football does. The fact that our guys are willing to, that may be a little different."

Morgan, who suffered a neck injury last week, said he thought of paralyzed NFL players Mike Utley and Darryl Stingley when he lay on the ground.

"I was scared at the moment because I couldn't feel my neck or my back," he said.

Morgan's injury wasn't serious and he's ready to play this week. So is Beebe, who played in two losing Super Bowl games for Buffalo against Dallas and is remembered for running down Leon Lett from behind to save a touchdown.

"If anyone's got incentive to beat Dallas, it's me," Beebe said. "They've got two Super Bowl rings that I could have had."

One player has more incentive -- Favre. Quarterbacks are defined by big games. This is his chance to take a step up.

Calling for cheers

The fans at Texas Stadium tend to be so laid-back -- the upscale fans resemble a Camden Yards crowd -- that Dallas coach Barry Switzer is asking them to get into the game against the Packers.

" 'Monday Night Football' is a big stage," Switzer said. "I want to use that as an advantage for us. The only way to do that is for everybody to get into it. I go on the road and remark to my coaches, 'I wish it was like this at home.' "

Here we go again

An NFL season wouldn't be complete without at least one team complaining about its stadium deal and dropping subtle hints that it could move if it doesn't get a better one.

This year, it's Indianapolis, which is finding itself in the same position Baltimore faced 13 years ago.

The city's position is that it has a lease with the Colts until the year 2014 and expects the team to live up to it.

"The Colts have notified us that they are financially not competitive in the NFL and they are probably right," Mayor Stephen Goldsmith told the Indianapolis Star. "But whether we'll respond or not is yet to be seen."

Gerald Moss, attorney for the Capitol Improvement Board, which operates the RCA Dome, said it would go to court to fight a move.

As recently as 1994, the Colts were advanced $7.5 million toward future luxury-box revenue in return for extending the lease to 2014.

The problem for the Colts is that the luxury boxes bring in only between $15,000 and $36,000 and the team makes only $500,000 from stadium revenue. Many clubs make more than $5 million; the Cowboys make $40 million.

Jim Irsay, the team's chief operating officer, said: "I don't like people mentioning the moving aspect of it because that's not what this is all about. This is about saying we have a lease that was signed in 1984 and have a changing landscape in the league."

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